Saturday, May 2, 2009

Knowing your sewing self

The Ancient Greeks believed in the philosophy of "know yourself' to the point they ingraved it above the entrance to the Delphic Oracle.

And to that I would add, "know your sewing self." My sewing self hates stash but loves fabric bargains so fabric gifts, charity shop fabrics and sale fabrics are all fair game: only I have to start using them up before they sit around glaring at me.

I also hate having sewing lists. It's up there with too much stash. The destination becomes more important than the journey: I start wanting to tick things off, get things finished, I'm dreaming about the next project while still working on the current project.That would be ok if I enjoyed it, but I don't. I end up feeling flustered and harried. And in the words of our very own modern day oracle Dr Phil, "if it's not workin' for you, don't do it."

So while I toyed with the idea of giving the latest Pattern Review contest a try, I knew it wasn't for me. 4 garments in a month, co-ordinated to go with an existing garment. Great idea, sewing things that go together, are planned and purposeful, and designed to extend your current wardrobe.

But I cannot sew 4 garments in a month and enjoy it. I said to TMB, "if I enter this contest, I'm going to need you to look after Benjy a lot in the weekend." His reply? "What doesn't kill you only makes you angry and resentful." So that was the end of that. Anyway, sewing 4 garments to a plan is just another form of oppression to me and having a one month time limit elevates it to torture.

But I liked the idea of entering one of their contests because it would be fun, and connect me to other sewers, which is what I love most about reading other people's sewing blogs - I love the sewing journey, no matter whose it is.

So I see the PERFECT sewing competition for me is coming up for me in June. The "ugly fabric" contest.

I have the perfect fabric: a charity shop "bargain." A piece of Thai silk in mint condition. It is a batik scarf, in garish colours and a bold sub tropical flowers print. It says to me "hawaiian shirt for a man whose sexual preference collocates with the word "flamboyant." I strongly suspect that some woman bought it for her mother-in-law.

But how could I leave a brand new scarf a yard wide (90cms square) with hand rolled hems, and hand painted/batiked detail languishing in the scarfs barrel?

First off I tried to make it into one of those over aprons. I pinned in darts through the bust and waist, but the proportions were all wrong. So then I looked for a pattern and found a handkerchief top, which used a yard of fabric. I found a review for it on Pattern review that started like this, " this pattern worked perfectly for my broad shoulders and small bust" and read no further.

Then I found this pattern, Simplicity 2698, a project runway skirt. I could cut the scarf into wide panels for the view which uses a contrasting bottom, pick out one of the colours to use above and make a simple knit jersey top in something plain, very plain, for the top. And then I would have my entry into the "ugly fabric competition."

If anyone else has any ideas, I welcome suggestions. I just have to enter this competition.


  1. I've been thinking of you. It seems that this contest has helped ease off some of that burned-out feeling. TMB?

    That is truly one ugly fabric, btw. I agree that it was probably a gift, one of those "I don't really like her, anyway," and it shows.

    What are the rules? Can you mix the fabric with other non-ugly fabrics? Are you to sew it up in such a way that ugly will end up looking attractive, sorta like a fairy tale?

  2. I'm so pleased that fabric didn't have to make a quick return trip to the Sallies...I think the skirt sounds like a great idea.

    Enjoy your cold drizzly weekend :-)


  3. Fabric are like babies, for me: I can appreciate something unique and lovable about each of them. This fabric, I am struggling with. It's silk -- that's a plus!

  4. Speaking of ugly- did you see project runway last night? Kenley! What WERE you thinking??? And Mary Anna, that fabric is right up there with Kenley's.
    What a great competition though- I'm almost tempted to enter it myself.

  5. You know, the more I look through my stash, the more contenders I realise I have for the ugly fabric contest. Ho hum what does that say about my taste. Don't answer that.

    Geek Sewing - thanks for your thoughts. TMB is how my husband prefers to be referred to on my blog. (his initials) .. I don't know the exact rules of the contest, no doubt all will be revealed .. but I really hope this is a ugly ducking to swan challenge .. I mean I would ultimately like to wear this garment .. once??

  6. Yeah, this is one tough fabric to work with. Since the print is so big, using it as panels might give the print a "cropped" and somewhat distorted look. I do think that the middle part with the red flowers might be best suited for border trim. But to be honest, I'm scratching my head here...

  7. ditto on the feelings! i get resentful if too much is on my plate! i am getting frustrated right now because there is so much i want to do and I broke my fabric the stash has grown!

    I like the ugly fabric contest--hopefully you will end up loving it!

  8. As a side note, legendary fashion editor Polly Mellen is wearing an almost identical fabric as capris in last month's issue of American Vogue. From Ralph Lauren!

  9. I know what you mean about having lists of projects to tick off. I have much stash, and a grillion ideas for using it up, but find it hard to finish anything completely before I get lured to the next thing on the list. This week I'm finishing a pile of things off, getting them out of the house and rejigging my list ... mmmaybe ...
    Go, ugly fabric contest!!

  10. Think Frida Kahlo and all of a sudden that fabric becomes amazing. Twist it around your head and you'll just need pet monkey on your shoulder to complete the look. I can;t wait to see what you end up doing with it.